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As a client, you should expect your attorney to:

  • Listen to you. Work and strategize in partnership with you. Represent you with compassion, dignity and respect.
  • Respect your privacy. Communications should take place in a space that protects the confidential nature of the client-attorney relationship.
  • Advocate for you no matter what the opposition or circumstances. Obtain the best outcome that reflects your dignity and decency.
  • Inform you about what criminal history information is being relied on, make sure the information is accurate, and see that errors are corrected.
  • Thoroughly and carefully read all charging documents, discuss them with you, and give you a copy.
  • Refrain from actions that might project the image of a conflict of interest.
  • Visit you if you are in jail, accept your phone calls, answer your letters, and take the time to counsel and explain things in a respectful way.
  • Use language in writing and conversation that is clear and understandable to you.
  • Know the law and pursue an investigation of the facts of the case that is creative, competent, culturally sensitive, and appreciates the dimensions of your life.
  • Listen to your family and, at your request, share and exchange information so that you, your lawyer and your family stay informed.
  • Aggressively seek resources such as interpreters, experts and investigators necessary for an effective defense.
  • Aggressively pursue alternatives to incarceration. Identify your disabilities and obtain assessments and services for possible mental and physical health and substance abuse issues. Also, assess the immigration and collateral consequences of your criminal conviction, and act to prevent or minimize such consequences when possible.
  • Keep you informed about plea negotiations, tell you when a plea has been offered, explain the importance of your role in deciding whether or not to plead, advise you on the appropriateness of the plea and all of its consequences, and, acting in your best interest, help you to reach an informed decision.
  • Accurately inform you about sentencing and the incarceration process and work with you to plan the future in terms of treatment, transitional issues and reentry.
  • Review the pre-sentence report with you, ask the court to remove any identified errors, and file, where appropriate, a comprehensive defense pre-sentence memorandum.
  • Respond promptly to any complaint, without retaliation.

*Adapted from: Client-Centered Representation Standards, Draft 6, NYSDA Client Advisory Board, 2004.

Lorinda Youngcourt

King County Public Defender
Lorinda Youngcourt

Read her biography.

If you'd like to invite Lorinda or someone else from the Department of Public Defense to speak to your organization, please send your request to DPD at dpd@kingcounty.gov.